If you run a business in Florida, you might need a Florida business license, permit, or certificate of some kind in order to operate. And you might even need more than one of these documents, depending on the work that you do.
What types of business licenses do you need in Florida and what are the requirements associated with them? This article should help clear up some of your questions about getting a business license in Florida.
Federal Licenses and Permits
For most small businesses, the federal government doesn’t require licenses or permits. But there are certain types of activities that are regulated by one or more federal agencies, and those activities might require a federal license or permit.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
- Fish and wildlife
- Commercial fisheries
- Maritime transportation
- Mining and drilling
- Nuclear energy
- Radio and television broadcasting
- Transportation and logistics
If you’re involved in any of these activities, contact the federal agency that’s in charge of that activity and find out what licenses you’re required to have. Let’s say your business is involved with radio and television broadcasting. In this case, you’d be regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and that’s where you would find more information about federal licenses.
Tip: You can access a list of all federally licensed activities, along with links to more information, by visiting this website maintained by the U.S. Small business Administration.
State of Florida business license requirements
There are seven states where all businesses need to obtain state business licenses, in addition to any local licenses required. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Ohio, Nevada, and Washington State.
Good news! Florida doesn’t have a state-wide license requirement for businesses.
However, just like all other states, it does have license and certification requirements for occupations that require extensive training or expose consumers to potential hazards. Those include:
- Medical professionals
- Building contractors and other construction-related occupations
- Barbers and cosmetologists
- Architects and engineers
- Real estate brokers and salespersons, and
- Private investigators and other security services
Here’s an example: If you want to work as an architect in Florida, you’ll need to get a license from the Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design. Most state of Florida business licenses are issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. For a comprehensive list of all of the occupations that are regulated by the DBPR, click here.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also licenses certain occupations in Florida.
The procedures for getting a Florida state business license varies by occupation. You might have to meet specific educational or training requirements or need experience in the field. Some licenses require that you take and pass a written exam before getting your license. And — as you might have guessed — there is a license fee that you’ll need to pay.
Who needs to get a Florida business license?
Let’s say that you aren’t required to get a federal license or a state license. You might think that you’re in the clear. Think again. There’s a strong chance that you’ll need to get a local Florida business license.
Almost all Florida counties require businesses to obtain a license before doing business in the county. This requirement applies to all businesses, including one-person, home-based operations. In Florida, a general business license is called a “business tax receipt.”
How to get a business license in Florida
Getting a business license in Florida is pretty straightforward. You’ll obtain your license by registering with the county tax collector.
Many Florida cities require businesses to obtain a local business tax receipt (which, remember, is just another way of saying business license in Florida) in addition to the business tax receipt issued by the county.
So, if your business is located within a city’s limits, you may have to register with your city, as well as with the county tax collector. Check with the city government where your business is located.
And, remember: if you have an office in more than one city or county, you might need to get a local Florida business license for each one. Your city and/or county has a website that explains its requirements to get a business tax receipt. You can find searchable links to all Florida county tax collectors here.
You usually have the option of applying for your license online. Otherwise, you can download an application and email or mail it to the appropriate party.
Here’s the information you’ll likely need to provide when applying for a county and/or local business license in Florida:
- Social Security Number or Federal Employment Identification Number
- A description of your business activities
- Your legal business name and any fictitious name or “dba”
- Your business start date
- The number of employees and your expected annual sales
- Your business address and contact information,
- Each business owner’s contact information
- Your business sales tax number, if any
- Your industry code under the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS)
- Evidence you have all needed professional or commercial certifications or licenses for your occupation or business
After submitting your application, you’ll usually receive your business tax receipt within a few weeks in the mail or you may be able to download it from your county or city website. After you have it in your possession, you may be required to post it at your place of business.
How much is a business license in Florida?
Fees vary by locality and the nature and size of your business. They could range from as low as $25 to as high as a few hundred dollars. You must renew the license and pay a fee every year.
Do I need a Florida business license?
It’s true that a lot of self-employed individuals, particularly those who work from home, never get a state or local Florida business license.
But, if the state discovers that you’re working in an occupation without a required license, a host of bad things can happen. You’ll undoubtedly be ordered to stop doing business and you might also be fined. Depending on your occupation, failure to obtain a state of Florida business license might even constitute a crime.
If your county or city government finds out that you’re running an unlicensed business, you could also be fined and you might even be prevented from doing business until you get the license.
So it’s always best to avoid problems by researching the license(s) you need and applying for them so you can do business worry-free.
Licenses are a necessary part of doing business in Florida
Even if you’re a one-person business, you’re still required to get a Florida business license. But it can be challenging to keep up with all of these requirements, which is why Collective is here to support you.
After you join Collective, we’ll sort through all of the important details regarding what licenses you need to get. Plus we remind you when it’s time to renew them so you never miss a deadline or pay a late fee. Instead, you can focus on running your business.
Stephen has dedicated his career as an attorney and author to writing useful, authoritative and recognized guides on taxes and business law for small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, and freelancers. He is the author of over 20 books and hundreds of articles and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. Among his books are Deduct It! Lower Your Small Business Taxes, Working with Independent Contractors, and Working for Yourself: Law and Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Consultants.